Breast cancer is a type of cancer that develops when breast cells multiply uncontrollably and become malignant. It can start in different parts of the breast, although most of these cancers begin in the ducts or lobules. The type of breast cancer depends on which breast cells become cancerous.
Lobules are the glands that produce milk. The ducts are the tubes that carry milk to the nipple. Connective tissue (made up of fibrous and adipose tissue) surrounds and supports all parts of the breast. Breast cancer can spread outside the breast through blood vessels and lymphatic vessels. When this happens, it is said to have metastasized.
Although breast cancer is most often found in women, men can also develop it. About 1 in 100 cases of breast cancer in the United States is diagnosed in a man. The most common types of breast cancer in men are the same types found in women.
Symptoms to be aware of are changes in the skin above the breast, the appearance of a nodule (pellet) that feels different from the rest of the tissue in the breast, or retraction of the nipple. The most used diagnostic tests are self-examination and mammography.
Why self-examination? Being familiar with how your breasts look and how they feel to the touch can help you notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may cause concern. This may include changes detected during a breast self-exam. Report any changes you notice to your doctor or health care provider. What is a mammogram? A mammogram is an X-ray image of the breast. They are the best tests doctors have and use to look for signs of early-stage breast cancer, sometimes up to three years before any symptoms can be felt.
How is a mammogram done? The person is placed standing in front of a special X-ray machine, called a mammograph. A technician will place the breast on a plastic plate, covering it with another plate and pressing it firmly. The plates will flatten the breast and keep it still while the x-ray is taken. The steps are repeated to take a picture of the side of the breast. Subsequently, an X-ray is taken of the other breast in the same way. The technician will review all four X-rays to make sure there is no need to retake them, keeping in mind that the technician cannot tell you the results of the mammogram.A radiologist makes a detailed report that is then, sent to your doctor.
Where can I get a mammogram and who can I talk to if I have questions? • Ask your doctor. • In Alaska, the Department of Health and Human Services offers the “Ladies First” program which can help you pay for a cervical or breast cancer prevention exam, or for a mammogram if you meet age and income requirements. Call 1-800-410-6266 for more information.
Source: MASAVI, Mammography saves lives, Argentina / Center for Disease Control (CDC), USA
Daniel Vicencio has a degree in Bioimagenes Production, environmental defender, volunteer recycler in Argentina.
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